1 Understand 1.1 History 1.2 Culture and attitudes 1.3 Climate If you are visiting Hyderabad on business—as is increasingly the case now—it is easy to miss the 400 year-old Hyderabad. The city that immediately hits the eye is a sprawling metropolis of shopping malls and office buildings with glass facades. The whole of the city seems to be under construction or renovation and the roads are jammed because the metro is under construction. The magnificent "old city" that was once the seat of the Nizam, the ruler of the largest and the most opulent "princely state", and the twin city of Secunderabad where the British maintained a cantonment to keep the army within striking distance of the Nizam can be seen only if you take the time out to see them. Hyderabad's many epithets include the City of Pearls, the City of Nawabs, the Biryani City and, because of its high-tech industries, Cyberabad. History The Balahisar Baradari on the top of Golconda Fort In the 10th century, the kings of the Kakatiya dynasty built the fortress of Golkonda about 8 km to the west of what is now Hyderabad’s old city. Over the next few centuries, the fort became a major centre of diamond trade fed by the mines of Kollur, so much so that the word "Golkonda" became synonymous with great wealth. The fort changed hands many times before it came under the control of Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk in 1463. He had quelled rebellion in the Telangana region and was appointed the subedar, or administrator of the region by the Bahmani sultan as a result. By 1518, he had become independent from the sultan, declared himself the Sultan under the name "Quli Qutb Shah" and established the Qutb Shahi dynasty. In 1589, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, a grandson of Quli Qutb Shah, moved his capital from the Golconda fort to the present day location of Hyderabad due to water shortages at the old location. In 1591, he ordered the construction of the Charminar, reportedly in gratitude to Allah for stopping a plague epidemic before it could do too much damage. The name "Hyderabad" reportedly had its origins in an affair between Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah and a local Telugu courtesan named Bhagmati. He named the city Bhagyanagar after her, and after she converted to Islam and took on the name of "Hyder Mahal", he named the city Hyderabad. Hyderabad was built on a grid plan with help from Iranian architects. French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier favourably compared Hyderabad to Orleans. The Qutb Shahi dynasty lasted till 1687, when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb defeated the sultanate and took over Hyderabad. He appointed a governor to rule the region and granted him the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk. However, Mughal rule was short-lived and in 1724, the Nizam Asaf Jah I gained independence from a declining Mughal empire. Legend has it that while on a hunting expedition, he met a holy man who offered him some kulchas (flatbreads) and asked him to eat as much as he could. Asaf Jah ate only seven, and the holy man prophesied that his dynasty would last for seven generations. Sure enough, the seventh ruler in the dynasty was the last. In honour of the legend, the flag of the Nizams featured a kulcha. Around 1763, Asif Jah II, defeated by the Marathas and threatened by Tipu Sultan of Mysore, entered into a subsidiary alliance with a British. Hyderabad state became a "princely state", protected by, and under the overlordship of the British. The British maintained their army in nearby Secunderabad to protect the Nizam and to ensure that he did not do any mischief. Hyderabad state was the richest in the country, and in the 1930s Time magazine rated the Nizam the richest man in the world. In 1947, with India's independence, the seventh Nizam was reluctant to cede his principality to the newly independent India, preferring Pakistan instead. India sent in its troops and the 200 year old prophesy was fulfilled. On 17 September 1948, it was merged into India. Hyderabad become the capital of Hyderabad state. In 1956, Telugu-speaking areas were consolidated into the state of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad became the capital of this new state. The new capital's administrative buildings were constructed in the "new city", between the "old city" (as the Nizam's city came to be called) and Secunderabad. However, in 2014, the merger of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was reversed, and the state of Telangana was officially formed. In 2016-7 the capital of Andhra Pradesh was moved to Amaravati, leaving Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana alone. Culture and attitudes In many senses, Hyderabad is the meeting ground between North and South India. The city has a culture that is distinct from the rest of Telangana, showing Islamic influences and a courtly presence imparted from its period as the capital of the Nizamate. This is more evident in the old city. The new city resembles many provincial state capitals in India. Secunderabad is more cosmopolitan, as the Cantonment area is in this part of the city. Due to an influx of young men and women from various parts of the country, Hyderabad's culture and attitudes have taken a turn towards "modernity". However, the city is still a deeply conservative place, so dress appropriately, especially in the old city. Climate Hyderabad has a tropical climate. The best time to visit the city is from mid-November to mid-February. Temperatures are mild with abundant sunshine during this time and average temperatures range from a low of 15°C (59°F) to a high of 29°C (85°F). March to June is hot and dry with occasional thunderstorms. Highs can reach 45°C (113°F) or more and a lack of air-conditioning can make it feel very uncomfortable. July, August, September and October can be quite warm and humid. Low pressure systems from the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon season can cause heavy rain for days.